There are tons of reasons why everyone should be proponents of design in an increasingly digital world. With users habitually swiping and scrolling through dozens of content daily, brands only have a few seconds before they lose out on potential customers. And the quickest, and arguably the most effective, way to capture their attention is through visual design.
So, what does this mean for you? Well, given the significance of design in the digital world, the demand for digital designers is bound to rise. This includes increasing opportunities to work for yourself, for someone else, or even a mix of both.
But that’s not all there is to look forward to. For one, you won’t be limited to one type of work as a digital designer. In fact, having the right digital design skills can open multiple job avenues for you like web design, UX design, UI design, product design, and even game design. Whichever field you choose, you’ll have the power to bring your ideas to life and create not just appealing but also functional designs.
The good news is that a degree in digital design is no longer necessary to break into the field. According to Dribble’s 2021 Design Industry Trends Report, more designers are choosing alternative training over formal education. These include design bootcamps and online courses.
But there is one more path that’s equally effective in shaping you from a novice to a professional digital designer. Enter, Path Unbound.
Path Unbound creates a flexible path that transforms people from zero to pro digital designers through customizable and affordable design courses.Enroll in Path Unbound and graduate with a certificate.
A Brief Overview of Path Unbound Design School
Path Unbound is a creative educational company built by designers for designers. The school’s unique mission was born from the decade-long experience of its founder and CEO, Stella Guan.
As an internationally-recognized multidisciplinary designer and creative director with vast teaching experience, Stella sought to resolve discrepancies in the creative education industry, the primary of which is the high cost and time commitment required to receive quality digital design training.
Determined to make a difference, she started a school dedicated to building next-generation digital, visual, and UI designers through affordable, focused, and personalized training.
Read on as we dive deep into Path Unbound’s key differentiating features.
5 Reasons to Learn Digital Design at Path Unbound
Five features make Path Unbound a choice destination for many aspiring digital designers.
The consensus is that design schools are expensive, which might have ended many underprivileged aspiring designers’ dreams. This is why one of Path Unbound’s core missions is to provide designers equal access to quality and affordable design education. No more starving artists, just business-ready designers.
It divides the curriculum into several courses, each handling a core aspect of digital design. That way, students can take one course at a time at a $499 price tag or opt for the nine-course certificate package, which costs $4,380.
2. Learn from Established Instructors
At Path Unbound, you won’t just learn from mentors or tutors who may have some industry experience but lack teaching experience. Instead, Path Unbound instructors are design educators who possess years of experience in design and education. They have:
- At least five years of industry experience,
- Previous teaching experience in design either at a private for-profit educational institution or a higher education institution, and
- The ability to maintain an engaging instructional style and be patient even when students repeat mistakes.
Those with no teaching experience are tested during a “sample teaching” interview, where they must teach a topic from one of the school’s courses. They are evaluated based on how effective they teach concepts to zero-background students, how engaging they are in their instructional style, and how well they deal with pressure.
You can work with an instructor whom you click with better. You can also receive feedback from instructors and book sessions with any of them by fixing a meeting via their activity book.
3. Build Strong Foundational Skills in Design
Path Unbound’s courses hone your understanding of fundamental digital design concepts. Each module begins with the fundamentals like definitions and core tools you will encounter throughout the course. As you gradually move to advanced topics, you will be able to comprehend more as several design components intersect to form a complete and practical framework.
4. Gain Practical Design Experience
Digital design is a pragmatic discipline, which is why you must complete several projects throughout the program. These projects will help you build practical experience and cement your knowledge of each concept.
Adding to the practical-based design lessons, Path Unbound provides the Portfolio School programs where you can build more experience, depending on the track you choose. You will learn more about the Portfolio School courses later in this article.
5. Receive Personalized Step-by-Step Study Plan
Not everyone learns at the same pace. When you step into Path Unbound, you’ll receive a hand-picked curriculum tailored to your skill level and career goals. You can pause your learning at any time.
Further, those with heavy schedules do not have to worry about forfeiting the program because student enrollment does not expire. Once you get into a course, you receive lifetime access to classes and learning resources. That gives ample flexibility to learn and study regardless of your schedule demands. You will also get timely notifications and customized reminders to stay on track and focused on completing your program.
Digital Design Courses at Path Unbound
Path Unbound offers two streams: (1) the School of Design certificate program and (2) the Portfolio school programs.
School of Design
The School of Design contains nine courses totaling 97 credit units and 9 portfolio projects. Students can choose to take a single course or take the entire program and earn a certificate of completion. Alternatively, students can receive guidance for a customized track that allows them to choose nine courses or fewer, depending on their design background or career goals. Below is the list of available courses.
- Advanced Typography. Typography is one of the foundational skills in visual design. And this course covers a length of topics from typography foundations to practical application in design.
- Advanced Color Theory. This foundation course helps students understand the multifaceted aspects of color theories, which is a crucial skill for designers. They also learn to apply diverse colors to digital, print, and interactive design.
- Advanced Layouts. Students learn foundational principles of design layouts in this course. They also explore best practices and analyze case studies to reinforce their understanding of the material.
- Design Systems. Students learn to develop and document reusable design assets and create guidelines for applying colors, typography, icons, and motions in design systems. They also study famous design systems like Luna and IBM Carbon design systems.
- Advanced UI Design. Covers the length and breadth of designing user interfaces via 45 lessons and 15 projects. The course teaches students to create compelling interfaces and responsive designs for websites and software apps using Figma and other advanced tools.
- UI Animation and Interaction. Students are introduced to basic animation concepts and administering animation in design. They then move on to transforming the concepts into animations. The course also helps students decide when and how to apply animations in web and software animations.
- Brand Design. This course dissects the standards and components for building brand designs. It begins with an overview of branding—brand story, brand identity, research, and story, plus general marketing principles. It also covers topics and projects on logo building, brand color selection, and personal branding.
- Art Direction. In this course, students learn the roles of art directors and their relevance across various disciplines. They also dive into the art direction process, brand tone and voice, customer persona, and client management.
- Design for Accessibility. This course dissects the concept of accessibility in animation, interaction, audio, visual, and text content. It teaches how to design for accessibility from scratch to finish.
In a saturated job market, you’ll need to go beyond templated design portfolios to stand out. Think about it: if you want to prove your mettle as a designer, using a portfolio template does you a disservice. Rather, you must feature exciting projects you’ve built along with your unique personal brand.
Aware of this, Path Unbound created Portfolio School. Although it is included for free in the School of Design certificate program, students can take this separately if they already have a design background.
The portfolio school offers two tracks to accommodate designers and creatives with diverse experience levels. They are Portfolio Kickstart and the Portfolio Express, with each varying in length, content, and cost.
- Upfront cost: $899
- Installment plan: $320/month for 3 months
The Portfolio Express program is six weeks long, and it’s designed for students with portfolio-worthy projects. Because everyone learns at a different pace, the program is accommodative for people who may need additional time to complete their tasks.
During the program, you will receive guidance from experienced instructors via one-on-one sessions, about nine in total, as you learn about personal branding and custom portfolio website using no-code tools.
- Upfront cost: $1,899
- Installment plan: $350/month for 6 months
- Deferred tuition agreement: $750 down payment + $292/ month for 6 months after graduation
The 12-week program provides more extensive offerings, comprising 15 one-on-one sessions with the instructors. Students will complete three design projects in the first six weeks, each centering on a unique aspect of digital and interactive design and branding. Although each project has a time guide for completion, Path Unbound accommodates those that may require additional time to complete their tasks.
After completing three projects, the curriculum segues to focus on actual portfolio design and building using the Portfolio Express curriculum. Interested students will also have the opportunity to pair up with a startup for a month-long project.
How to Pay for a Path Unbound Program
One approach Path Unbound takes to create affordable options is to make its tuition affordable. Additionally, the school offers various payment options and scholarships to make its programs accessible to everyone.
Path Unbound Payment Options
Path Unbound offers three payment options.
1. One-Time Payment
As the name implies, this method implies paying your tuition up front. For example, choosing this option when you enroll in Path Unbound’s School of Design requires that you pay a lump sum of $4,380 before you start the program. That said, you can also take the courses within the program individually for an upfront cost of $499.
Just note that taking several courses together as part of the School of Design certificate program will help you save on tuition expenses.
2. Deferred Tuition Agreement
Make a down payment of $1,500 and complete the balance six to 12 months after graduation. The repayment clause will kick off once you secure a job that pays above $30,000 for your program or once the 60-day grace period elapses—whichever comes first.
Put simply, a student of the School of Design will be required to submit a down payment of $1,500. Then, after graduating and getting a qualifying job, the student will have to pay $4,500 over 12 months. That translates to $375 in monthly installments.
However, If students go past the 60-day post-graduation grace period, regardless of a job offer, they are responsible for making monthly payments for the remainder of the tuition.
Here are some other things to note:
- Students opting for the deferred tuition agreement plan do not qualify for scholarships.
- The deferred tuition payment plan is only available to US-based students.
3. Installment Payment Plan
Split your tuition into six smaller parts and pay each part every month. For example, if you attend the School of Design Certificate program, you will be paying $800 per month. That comes up to $4,800 at the end of six months. The total amount using the monthly payment plan is slightly higher than the upfront payment due to processing costs.
Path Unbound Scholarships
Path Unbound also provides several scholarship programs to make design education more accessible to aspiring designers.
1. Diversity Financial Need Scholarship
This program is designed for people of color and people who identify as LGBTQIA+. The scholarship offers students a 30 percent tuition waiver provided that they meet the qualifying conditions, including passing a financial need assessment.
2. General Financial Need Scholarship
This scholarship provides a 30 percent tuition discount to all recipients like the diversity scholarship. However, it is only available for those who do not qualify for the diversity scholarship but demonstrate financial need.
To be eligible for Path Unbound scholarships, students must:
- have an annual gross income that is below $30,000;
- opt for the one-time payment or monthly payment plan financing. To mitigate financial risks on the school, choosing the deferred tuition agreement automatically disqualifies students from consideration for this scholarship; and
- be in the Kickstart track if they are only enrolled in the Portfolio School program.
Redesign Your Career with Path Unbound
Path Unbound’s focused offerings ensure that you get access to quality education regardless of your schedule or financial abilities. In addition, since the programs and courses are conducted remotely, the distance barrier is factored out. Therefore, you can learn from anywhere in the world and at your convenience.
The lessons are of good quality and delivered by experienced teachers. They are also relevant to a diverse category of designers, from UX/UI designers and digital designers to graphics designers and web designers.
So, whether you are a novice wanting to enroll in the School of Design to see through your dream as a designer or an experienced designer looking to sign up for a single design course to upskill, Path Unbound ensures that it meets your needs.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.